AMERICAN SAMOA’S KACHMARIK ARGUES FOR CUSTOMS PAY RAISE

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AMERICAN SAMOA’S KACHMARIK ARGUES FOR CUSTOMS PAY RAISE

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (March 28, 2002 – Radio Australia)---An official in American Samoa has argued at a territorial Senate hearing that a pay raise for Customs agents is justified, to prevent them from taking bribes.

Governor Tause Sunia’s government is asking for US$ 200,000 to fund the raises.

Manager of the Office of Revenue and Collections in American Samoa, Jack Kachmarik, says most of the Customs workers earn an annual salary of less than US$ 8,000, which is inadequate pay for the work that they do.

He says alert customs officials are responsible for intercepting drugs, illegal cigarettes and other contraband cargo at the island’s port and airport.

Mr. Kachmarik says if customs agents earned decent salaries, and were respected, they would be unlikely to give in to the temptation of bribes.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

 

AMERICAN SAMOA GOVERNMENT WANTS TO DOUBLE CUSTOMS SERVICE FEES

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (March 27, 2002 – Samoa News)---Customs service fees will double in American Samoa if a proposal transmitted to the Fono from Governor Tauese Sunia is passed into law.

The proposed fee increases are outlined in a measure submitted to the Fono on Feb. 22nd to amend the current Customs regulations law and add new Customs provisions.

Among several changes to current Customs regulations is the proposal to increase a Customs officer’s attendance fee at any place other than a port of entry from $15 to $30 per day and $7.50 to $15 per hour outside of regular business hours.

The bill also proposes to hike clearance of commercial vessels per entry and departure from $3 to $6 and clearance of non-commercial vessels from $25 to $50 per entry and departure.

The administration expects to collect $200,000 from the proposed increases, which are part of the Governor's package of seven new tax measures presently before the 27th Legislature.

Money collected from the proposed fees will go towards funding the proposed salary reclassification of Customs officers, according to a supplementary budget submitted to the Fono on March 21st by the Governor.

"From expected improvements to be achieved in the performance of customs officers and proper funding of their required overtime, I expect this appropriation will more than pay for itself in collection of additional revenues," Tauese informed the Fono leadership.

However, the Senate during second reading of the Supplementary Appropriation bill yesterday cut $50,000 from the Customs $200,000 and reallocated it to the Fono for other purposes.

The Fono's decision was based on a Senate Budget Committee hearing held earlier in the day where Jack Kachmarik, acting chief Customers officer and manager of the Treasury Department's Revenue Bureau testified.

During the hearing, Kachmarik pleaded with the committee that Customs officers deserved reclassification of their salaries, "an increase" due to the excellent working performance in the last six months.

In the last three months, Customs officers have been credited for the interception of smuggled cigarettes and illegal substances into the territory, and increasing excise tax collections.

Kachmarik said Customs officers are paid below their work level and are deserving of a salary increase, not only as a good gesture for their excellent work but as a further boost of morale for the Customs staff.

Responding to committee questions, Kachmarik said there are currently 52 staffers in the Customs Division and this proposed measure would also help hire additional inspectors of up to 8 people.

"We need to commend them for their job well done and I believe that Customs officers are deserving of this salary increase," he added.

Under direct questioning from one Senator, Kachmarik said that this division of the government can do with $150,000, giving the Senate a reason to reduce the Customs supplementary appropriation.

During the Committee debate it was brought up that the supplementary budget focused only on Customs reclassification, but not across the board for other government agencies.

It was further noted that this matter should have also been processed through the Department of Human Resources, but some Senators said they believe all those channels had been explored by the Governor before the measure was submitted to the Fono for approval.

One of the reclassifications now been reviewed by the Administration, is salary increases for public school teachers.

Items from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to

For additional reports from the Samoa News, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Samoa News.

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